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   Chapter 13 FOR VENGEANCE

The Yellow House By E. Phillips Oppenheim Characters: 7509

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


I knocked at the door twice before there was any answer. Then I heard my father's voice from the other end of the room.

"Is that you, Kate?"

"Yes," I answered. "Can I come in?"

The door was not immediately unlocked.

"Has she gone?" he asked.

"Yes," I answered.

He opened it then, and I was frightened to see how ill he looked. He had evidently been lying down, for the cushions on his sofa were disarranged.

"She has gone away, then," he repeated, anxiously.

I nodded.

"Yes."

"Was she annoyed because I did not see her?"

"She was disappointed," I admitted. "She was very ungracious and very disagreeable; a most objectionable person altogether. I don't know how I managed to be civil with her."

"You explained that I was not well-that I was not fit to see any one?"

"I did my best. She was very unreasonable, and she evidently expected that you would have made an effort to see her. She went away grumbling."

He sat down upon the sofa, and I leaned against the table.

"Has she gone back to London?" he asked.

"I do not know, I don't think so. She said something about going back to the police station and wiring to London for a detective."

"Ah!"

He had closed his eyes. I heard him draw in a long, sharp breath.

"She is a very determined young woman," I continued. "Perhaps I ought not to say so, but she seemed to feel more angry than broken-hearted. She is vindictive, I am sure. She will do her best to find the man who killed her brother, and if she finds him she will have no mercy."

My father rose up and walked to his writing table. His back was turned to me as he commenced to sort out some papers.

"Perhaps," he said, "that is natural. It is very hard indeed to remember that vengeance belongs to God, and not to man. It is very hard indeed. Leave me now, Kate, and see that I am not disturbed for an hour."

I closed his door softly, and walked out into the garden, across the lawn to the edge. Below me was the little plantation, ill-famed and suddenly notorious as the scene of that terrible tragedy. Every tree seemed clearly defined and beautiful in that soft autumn twilight. I looked at it with a curious sense of shuddering fear. That girl's face, hungry for vengeance, the code of blood for blood-it was terrible. But the vengeance of God-more awful, if not so swift as hers-on whom was that to fall?

A heavy step in the road brought me, with a little sense of relief, back to the present. The tall form of Mr. Bruce Deville came in sight. He passed so close to me that I could have touched him.

"Good night, Mr. Deville," I said, softly, in his ear.

He started almost over to the other side of the road. Then he saw me, and lifted his cap.

"Good God!" he exclaimed. "I beg your pardon, Miss Ffolliot. How you startled me!"

"I am very sorry," I said, penitently.

He looked at me and laughed. "You may be," he said; "but you don't look it. I am glad that you are better."

"I am quite well, thank you," I answered. "I am glad to see you, Mr. Deville. I wanted to thank you for those beautiful roses. I could not believe that they came from you."

He looked a little embarrassed.

"They are not worth mentioning," he muttered. "Besides, it was Adelaide's idea. She thought that you would like them."

I felt a little needlessly disappointed. Doubtless I answered him a little coldly.

"I must thank Mrs. Fortress for them, then! Very well; I will go down and see her to-morrow."

"I don't think," he said, with a slight twinkle in his eyes, "that you need go down specially. Mrs. Fortress only answered my question when I asked her if she thought that you would care for them."

"Oh, is that all?" I remarked.

"Entirely," he answered. "At

the same time, if you have any time to spare I daresay Mrs. Fortress would be glad to see you if you went down."

"Do you think she would, really?" I asked. "You know the first time I was there, something a little unpleasant happened in connection with my father. I took a great fancy to her, and I would like to go and see her again, but I am not sure whether she wants me. I fancy she was very surprised at my visit the other night."

"I am perfectly certain," he declared, confidently, "that she would be glad to see you any time you chose to go to her. You may take my word for that."

"I think I will go to-morrow, then," I said. "Mrs. Fortress interests me very much. There is no one else round here like her."

"You are very friendly with my godmamma, are you not?" he said, with a faint smile at the corners of his lips.

"Lady Naselton has been very kind to me," I answered.

"I am afraid she gives me a dreadful character, doesn't she?" he asked.

"If she does you probably deserve it," I said, severely. "I fancy that I have heard her say that you are exceedingly shiftless and very lazy. You could scarcely deny that, could you?"

"Well, I don't know," he answered. "I have walked twenty or thirty miles to-day. That doesn't sound particularly lazy, does it?"

"On sport or business?" I inquired.

He laughed, and looked down at himself. His clothes were splashed with mud, and a bramble had torn his coat in a fresh place.

"I maintain that it is immaterial," he declared. "I've been out all day, and I haven't sat down for more than an hour. Therefore I deny the laziness in toto."

"At any rate," I continued, "there is another charge against you, which you certainly can't deny."

"And that is?"

"Untidiness! We used to have a woman call upon us at Belchester to buy our old clothes. If ever she comes here I shall certainly send her up to Deville Court."

He laughed gruffly.

"I wish you would; I'd sell her the whole lot. Anything else?"

"The other things," I said, "were too bad to repeat. I have only been enumerating your minor faults."

He made me an ironical bow.

"I am exceedingly obliged to my godmother," he said. "Some day I shall do myself the pleasure of paying her a visit and suggesting that she should mind her own business."

"Your business is her business to the extent of her godmotherhood," I reminded him, suavely.

"Hang her godmotherhood!" he uttered under his breath. I think it was "hang" he said-I was not sure about the expletive.

"I shall go away," I said. "You are getting profane. You are still as rude as when I bound your dog's leg for you, I see."

He was suddenly grave.

"That seems a long time ago," he remarked.

"A week or two only," I reminded him. "It seems longer, because of all that has happened. That reminds me, Mr. Deville. I wanted to speak to you-about-that Sunday-the murder!"

He shook his head, and whistled to his dogs.

"Can't talk about it," he declared. "You ought not to want to."

"And why not?" I demanded.

"You are not well enough. I don't wonder that you've been ill. You must have been within a few yards of the fellow all the time. Certainly you must not talk about it. Good evening."

"But there is something I want to ask you," I continued.

He shook his head. He was already moving away. I called him back.

"Mr. Deville! One moment, please."

He paused and looked over his shoulder.

"Well!"

"I want to ask you just one thing about that man."

I was talking to empty space. Bruce Deville was already almost out of sight, striding along across the short turf, with his broad back turned to me. Soon he had vanished amongst the shadows. There was nothing for me to do but to return to the house.

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